Paterson looks to boost politically connected education consulting firm’s contract | Paterson Times Paterson Times

Paterson looks to boost politically connected education consulting firm’s contract

By Jayed Rahman
Published: February 12, 2018

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The school district is seeking to increase its contract with retired administrator Joseph Fulmore’s consulting company to $40,000. His firm received a $25,000 contract late last year following a one-year hiatus due to an alleged pay-to-play violation to provide “mentoring” services. School officials want to add another $15,000 to the contract for it to handle “special education parent complaints.”

Some school board members opposed adding an additional $15,000 to the contract last Wednesday at a time when the district is dealing with a massive budget shortfall.

“What is your rationale for recommending this?” asked school board member Jonathan Hodges to president Oshin Castillo. Her committee reviewed and recommended the contract for approval at the board’s next meeting on Feb. 21, 2018.

“It’s kind of a mediator so that we can get all of the parents’ issues resolved,” replied Castillo.

Superintendent Eileen Shafer and chief of staff Pamela Powell have been responding to parents’ complaints about special education. The director of special education would ordinarily respond to such complaints; however, that position was eliminated several years ago, said school officials.

“Right now, what I don’t want to do is not get back to parents in a timely manner, especially when it comes to special education,” Shafer told school board members. The district plans to hire a special education director at some point in the future, she said.

Shafer told the board Ultimate Education Solutions will provide a retired district administrator to respond to complaints from parents. Without mentioning a name, she identified the person as a former principal, assistant superintendent, vice principal, and teacher.

Hodges asked whether this individual is a “special ed. professional.”

“Does she know how to deal with special needs parents? Yes,” replied Shafer.

“What does this firm do that people in our district and our schools don’t do?” asked school board member Emanuel Capers. “We have people. There are principals in schools. There are guidance counselors. We have a whole special education department. Why are we hiring more consultants to talk to parents?”

School officials identified the individual as retired administrator Jeanette Lyde. She retired from the district in 2007-8 school year, according to state records, and collects a $86,000 pension.

Lyde has made political contributions to the campaigns of assemblyman Benjie Wimberly and assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter. She contributed $195 to Wimberly’s campaign in 2010. $30 to Sumter’s campaign in 2012. And $400 to ex-mayor Jeffery Jones’ campaign in 2010, according to state records.

Fulmore’s company lost its contract in 2016-17 school year after he made a reportable contribution to then-school board member Christopher Irving’s campaign. State law and a board policy forbid awarding contract over $17,500 to a firm that makes a reportable political contribution to a member of the board of education over the past year. Fulmore had to sit out a year before receiving another contract.

Fulmore has not made any reportable political contributions in the past year.

Hodges and Capers said the district will be better off hiring a part-time special education teacher to help address the problem-plagued special education program.

“I’d much rather see a special ed. teacher hired to provide those services,” said Hodges.

Lyde may not be able to assist non-English speaking parents, said a school board member.

Fulmore did not respond to a call for comment for this report.

Email: jay@patersontimes.com


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